Enterprise mobile app developers continue to grapple with many of the familiar dilemmas for creating apps that will best serve their organizations in the next year and beyond. As in any year, developers will be looking to increase the productivity of their organization’s employees (and perhaps partners) who are using the app, which can be no small task in an enterprise world that often demands a potentially unwieldy myriad of app features.
Every business will still have the goal of making enterprise app development quicker and more cost effective. Recent trends in making apps that are multi-channel and built for mobile will also continue, with agile development approaches sure to see even more uptick.
But what issues are going to be top of mind for enterprise app developers in the next 12 months? Potentially plenty; I’ve narrowed it down to four parts of the app dev process.
Different platforms. Different devices. Different apps?
In conversations with enterprise app developers, the obstacle that kept surfacing was the challenge of delivering apps for multiple devices and platforms. Developers continue to debate different creation and deployment methods, but key trends have emerged around the three main routes of developing for (and choosing between) native, mobile Web, and hybrid applications, as well as the scenarios under which each of those approaches make the most sense.
Native apps lend themselves to a rich user experience, having been built specifically for the hardware in question (with the downside of most often requiring dedicated teams to build separate versions of the app for each specific supported device). Mobile Web apps written in device-agnostic HTML5 tend to be best for enterprise applications that benefit from rapid iterations and adaptations, and they have the advantage of allowing developers to code once and deploy to multiple platforms. Hybrid apps aim for the best of both worlds, combining the device-level advantages of native development with the versatility of developing for mobile Web.
Look for 2015 to be the year when we really see a shift toward the reality Google’s Larry Page predicted when he said, “In the very long term, I don’t think you should have to think about, as a developer, ‘Am I developing for this platform or another,’ or something like that. I think you should be able to work at a much higher level, and software you write should run everywhere, easily.”
Unique to enterprise: The offline experience
Maintaining access to mobile networks or the Internet is still an all-too-common issue for today’s travelers. For vacationers, this might just mean holding off on Candy Crush for a few hours. But for a globetrotting workforce, it becomes a critical issue for which enterprise app devs increasingly need to prepare.
With always-on access never guaranteed, how can enterprise app developers insert offline capabilities into their apps without making development overly complex, resulting in a clunky, slow app? The kind of data syncing that makes a high-quality offline experience possible requires back-end services that can be difficult to build.